Do you know what signs indicate that you may need a digital detoxification? These days millions of people are spending more and more time on blue screens: mobile phones, computers, television, tablets and may other digital devices. Most of the users never realize that it may be worth doing a so called digital break in order to make themselves feel better. This year an important study commissioned by communications company Telia was conducted in Lithuania. It was discovered that many Lithuanians spend at least few hours and some of them more than 7 hours a day basically looking at digital screens.
According to a Telia survey, 6 out of 10 people use the mobile phone and watch television from 1 to 4 hours daily. Accordingly, 41% of the respondents spend the same amount of hours on their computers or laptops. Meanwhile, 28% of respondents spend more than 5 hours on their mobile phones. Furthermore, one in three (37%) spends 5 hours on their computer. In fact, one tenth of respondents do watch television 5 hours daily.
According to the expert of the Digital Ethics Center and public health specialist dr. Vilma Liaugaudaitė, a continuous usage of technology exhausts some people. Such people start suffering from anxiety and depression. Usually, a heavy usage of blue screens creates a closed circle: a person tries to “treat” his poor psychological well-being by browsing the internet uncontrollably. Such behavior can lead to habits that are extremely difficult to break.
Problematic use of internet and negative consequences
A survey discovered that negative consequences occur when 4-5 hours are spent connecting to the digital space: constantly checking your social networking accounts, browsing e-shops, playing games, or otherwise spending time online in your spare time. Dr. Vilma Liaugaudaitė emphasizes that one of the indicators of problematic behavior on the Internet is the reaction and personal well-being. According to her, there are many negative outcomes of problematic Internet use: mood swings, apathy, boredom, frustration and decreased interest in other life activities. Therefore, an increased time on screen and an excessive need to browse make young people to abandon of their studies and work.
Dr. V. Liaugaudaitė says that a problematic use of internet and digital devices cause significant negative changes in personal, family, social, educational, employment and other important areas of person’s life. It is important to mention that moderation and time control over the use of the Internet during pandemic is essential.
Benefits of digital detoxification
As the importance of digital technology continues to grow, it is vital to emphasize healthy habits in the use of the internet. Today, entertainment industry, especially gaming and pornography is engaging young people to spend a lot of time on the internet. Public health specialist Dr. V. Liaugaudaitė advices to limit one’s activities on the internet.
During Telia study several participants have tried a digital detoxification. Interestingly, the benefits of digital detoxification were confirmed by both people themselves and various health professionals.
More than half of people who had given up technology noticed an increased productivity. In fact 45% improved their emotional health, while 3 out of 10 participants said they had improved their sleep and noticed an increased concentration. Only a tenth of these young people felt no benefit of a digital detoxification
Warning signs you need digital detoxification
How do you know your usage of digital technology has reached a critical point and perhaps it’s time to test digital detoxification?
Dr. V. Liaugaudaitė distinguishes nine signs that indicate excessive involvement in technologies:
(1) You feel the need to check your phone every few minutes, even though you know nothing important has probably happened;
(2) When you feel anxious and stressed when you can’t find your phone, left it at home or in the car;
(3) You feel a strong desire to check your social networking accounts regularly for fear of missing something important;
(4) It becomes difficult to focus on one thing after hearing the phone signal and not checking it;
(5) You check for and respond to messages or emails even when you have to interrupt other activities
(6) You seem to be wasting your time using your phone and notice inattentive internet browsing;
(7) You go to bed late or get up earlier just to play on the phone or computer;
(8) You notice that using your phone sometimes reduces your productivity;
(9) Sleep regularly with your phone turned on by holding it under a pillow or next to a bed
Staying away from digital space is not an easy task
If you want to have a smooth abandonment of technology use you should prepare for it in advance. To begin warn your friends and family that you will be harder to reach online for a while. Make a plan what you will do during a digital detoxification, for example, choose books to read, go for a walk in nature or organize meeting friends.
If digital detoxification takes a long time to stay completely isolated, you can replace your smartphone with a simple push-button phone or remove social media apps from your mobile phone. Plan to use digital gadgets and your smartphone to make important calls only.
Staying away from digital space is not an easy goal to achieve. When you have achieved your goal, reward yourself, for example, have a massage, a spa treatment or prize yourself with other healthy pleasures. By doing so you will start valuing time without digital devices more and more. This way digital detoxification will become your new habit.